In December of 2012 the Georgia Department of Public Health planned to revise the current health regulations regarding children entering school. The proposed revision requires that children entering school also get a nutrition screening in addition to the other screenings already in place.
The current regulations include testing and examinations for a student’s vision, hearing and dental. The new nutrition screening also requires a calculation of the children’s body mass index. Government regulations involving children’s health can be controversial. Dawn Jones, a nursing major at UWG said “I don’t think it’s really necessary or fair. It is up to the parents what they feed their kids, but I see where it could be useful in some situations, like neglect, where the child either doesn’t get fed or is poorly taken care of.”
Many schools in Georgia are adopting more nutritious lunch menus and educating children about the importance of nutrition by hosting events that make healthy eating fun. The Georgia Department of Education has adopted the Georgia School Nutrition Program that creates a more nutritional menu for students and requires that all meals meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set by the United States Department of Agriculture. The guidelines recommend that 30 percent of a person’s calorie intake should be from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. According to the Department of Education, students who eat school lunches consume fewer calories than students who bring their own lunch.
Still, there are negative connotations associated with school lunches, which are often thought of as cheap, easy to make, mass produced foods that not only taste bad but are also far from healthy. “Compared to lunches from home, school lunches contain three times as many dairy products, twice as much fruit, and seven times the vegetable amounts,” said the Department of Education. With the recent surge in childhood obesity awareness, lunches have been the target of public scrutiny. The Georgia School Nutrition Program is looking to change lunch menus to something that kids will enjoy eating and will also keep them healthy.
However, some parents contend that these new regulations and requirements might have negative repercussions for children. “Girls in particular have enough to fight against as far as their body image,” said Jones. The idea that a woman has to have a certain body shape and type is something that is displayed all over television, magazines and advertisements. “Most girls do not fit what society tells them is attractive,” said Jones. “I think the government’s standards of what is considered “normal” weight doesn’t apply to everyone either.”